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Roman Mysteries #1: Thieves of Ostia Paperback – May 24, 2004

Book 1 of 17 in the Roman Mysteries Series

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Roman Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (May 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142401471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142401477
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this atmospheric debut novel, the first installment of a planned series, readers are whisked to the first century A.D. to help girl detective Flavia Gemina solve a brutal crime in the Roman port city of Ostia. When the guard dog belonging to Flavia's secretly Christian neighbors is slaughtered, Flavia sets out to find clues. She is accompanied by four trusty companions: Jonathan and Miriam, the Christian children; Nubia, a slave girl whom Flavia has recently acquired with her birthday money (with the purpose of emancipating her); and Lupus, a mute beggar boy. Many adventures later a pack of wild dogs chases them, they narrowly escape malicious slave traders and discover that their chief suspect has committed suicide by jumping from a lighthouse the children catch the culprit. Those looking for thrill-a-minute entertainment will find their fill of near-catastrophic events here, but the violence may be hard for some readers to stomach. Red herrings emerge too conspicuously and dialogue is sometimes stilted. Nonetheless, this historical mystery offers an intriguing glimpse into the customs, attitudes and class systems of the Roman empire. Ages 9-14.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-This story takes place in the Roman port city of Ostia in the year A.D. 79. Flavia Gemina, daughter of a sea captain, is an accomplished amateur detective. Her companions include her neighbor, Jonathan; Lupus, a young beggar; and Nubia, an African slave about her age. When Jonathan's dog is beheaded and other canines are slain, Flavia and her friends set out to find the killer. Running from slave traders and wild dogs are only some of the dangers that they encounter. The book is fast paced, but another strength is its description of Roman life. The author provides a glimpse at the various classes that make up this society, and through the lives of the characters, readers learn about the attitudes, beliefs, and customs of the period. The treatment of slaves and the confusion about Christians are just some of the facts that are included. Vivid descriptions of the architecture, economy, and politics lend an authentic note. The information is skillfully woven into the story, providing details that heighten readers' interest. An enjoyable mystery, and more.
Lana Miles, Duchesne Academy, Houston, TX
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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See all 41 customer reviews
The book is short, fast-paced and full of wry humour.
Ben Kane
I hope that the reader will enjoy the book as much as I did and will want to read the whole series.
I love this book and I would recommend this to anybody!
Chad W. Scarola

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Theives of Ostia is the first of an amazing series of 6. It begins in Ostia, port town of rome in about 90 ad. 4 children meet up to solve a mystery, this book contains many cliffhangers and shocks that will send your mind reeling. Secrets and lies tangle up in this book and at the end all ends meet. The Theives of Ostia contains magnificent historical detail, many classic teachers use these books as reference for their teaching. This book also shows how the tension mounted between pagans, jews and christians in the great roman empire. This book is marvellously entertaing as well as educative! The most entertaining part in the books is when you expect something to happen but it always happens in the opposite way that you would have imagined. The theives of Ostia even contains slight humour. But this book is not all about adventure and small children, it has love and the feelings of rejections. Some deaths in this book have brought me to tears, this is a truly emotional novel. The reason I chose this rating is because this book contins a touch of every style of writing possible and merges it together, it combines the best with the best! A competiter worthy of J.K. rowling. A must read for all children intrested in the roman empire!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Komputer kitten on April 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Flavia is a Roman girl with a nose for danger. With her gang of friends, she sets off on an investigation to find the real answers for the sudden and very questionable deaths of the dogs in her neighborhood. This is first and foremost a historical fiction novel. However, it is also very much a mystery caper and spine-tingling and bone-chilling adventure all rolled into one. The Thieves of Ostia is an academically-enriching experience. Perhaps the best part of Lawrence's book is that the educational aspect of this story is wrapped under a guise of entertainment, thereby making it easier for children to not only learn about Roman life in the year A.D. 79, but also to WANT to learn more about it. In fact, even adults will find Lawrence's book fun and amusing to read. Lawrence succeeds in providing a balance of a good story with a good dosage of factual information.

The Thieves of Ostia has italicized vocabulary words such as bulla and much more within its pages. In this way, children will learn new terminology that relate to Roman life. Librarians and teachers will find that though this book is meant for third grade and up, this is a novel with material useful to older kids as well. There are literary allusions to Pliny and references to the Aeneid by Virgil. This is a perfect companion book to a classroom study on Roman life and living.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Sayward on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This fast-paced story leads young readers through an action-packed adventure while
trying to introduce them to Roman life in the first century CE. While the story
grabs the reader's interest from start to finish, historical distortions abound.
Historical objects and their uses are described well in context, and the violence of
everyday life feels realistic. But social relationships are modern and contrived.
Twenty-first century cultural diversity is forced upon the cast of characters so that a
rich sea captain's daughter, a Jewish/Christian convert boy, a black Nubian slave,
and an abused tongueless beggar boy become instant friends to solve a crime.
Unrealistic depictions of human nature, scientific fact -- even dog behavior --
distract from the story at every turn. The special thrill of historical fiction, of
immersing oneself in a different time, is missing here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 25, 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
Bookstores are awash with detective/thriller stories boasting female protagonists. Yes, we have met quite a few brave, clever gals who can solve a mystery without chipping their manicures. However, I venture to say there are none like Flavia Gemina, introduced in Caroline Lawrence's debut novel.
You see, Flavia is a Roman sea captain's daughter who lives in 79 A.D. She's a carefree young miss who lives with her Dad in the port city of Ostia. She's also an animal lover, so when the dogs on her street start dying she is bound and determined to find out who is killing them and why anyone would perpetrate such senseless acts.
Kim Hicks, a very talented Brit who has performed in praiseworthy one-woman shows, gives captivating voice to Flavia and her buddies - including neighbor Jonathan; Nubia, a slave girl; and Lupus, a mute beggar boy.
As the group sets about solving the mystery they uncork a genie's bottle of adventures, escapades, and narrow escapes.
Listeners will particularly enjoy the setting of this tale as they learn something about life in ancient Rome.
- Gail Cooke
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Weiss on May 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read 'Thieves' in one sitting, and loved the fast-paced adventures of the young band of Roman friends!
Falvia Gemina, the smart young Roman girl, is joined by a group of friends as a mystery unfolds in her own home town in Italy.
Each page is filled with the sights, sounds, smells, and cultural authenticities that bring this story (set in 79A.D.) to vivid life. The book is exciting for younger adults (but not for the very young...), and adult enough to offer something for everyone.
I am a fan of a good mystery, and this first of several episodes kept me guessing and gave me a terrific introduction to this fresh and well-written series.
I am awaiting the next in this series of tales of long,long ago.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Million-selling author Caroline Lawrence writes detective stories with the double aim of entertaining children and teaching them. Combining fast-moving plots with historical accuracy means her history mystery stories are beloved of children, parents and teachers.

In 2009, Caroline won the Classical Association Prize for her Roman Mysteries series, which comprises over 20 books and inspired a glossy BBC TV series in the UK.

In 2011 Caroline launched a second historical detective series, the Western Mysteries, staring P.K. Pinkerton: a 12-year-old doubly orphaned detective who has trouble "reading people". The Case of the Deadly Desperados was the Sunday New York Times Editors' Choice in February 2012.

"I want to know everything about the past, especially the exciting things. Also the sounds, smells, sights and tastes. I write historical novels because nobody has invented a Time Machine. And I write for kids because 11 is my inner age."

Caroline is also writing a spin-off series of Roman books for readers aged 7+, starting with
The Sewer Demon

Here are the Roman Mystery novels in series order:

The Thieves Of Ostia: The Roman Mysteries 1
The Secrets Of Vesuvius: The Roman Mysteries 2
The Pirates Of Pompeii: The Roman Mysteries 3
The Assassins Of Rome: The Roman Mysteries 4
The Dolphins Of Laurentum: The Roman Mysteries 5
The Twelve Tasks Of Flavia Gemina:The Roman Mysteries 6
The Enemies Of Jupiter: The Roman Mysteries 7
The Gladiators From Capua: The Roman Mysteries 8
The Colossus Of Rhodes: The Roman Mysteries 9
The Fugitive From Corinth: The Roman Mysteries 10
The Sirens Of Surrentum: The Roman Mysteries 11
The Charioteer Of Delphi: The Roman Mysteries 12
The Slave-Girl From Jerusalem: The Roman Mysteries 13
The Beggar Of Volubilis: The Roman Mysteries 14
The Scribes From Alexandria: The Roman Mysteries 15
The Prophet From Ephesus: The Roman Mysteries 16
The Man From Pomegranate Street: The Roman Mysteries 17

Here are the mini-mysteries:

The Legionary From Londinium And Other Mini-Mysteries
Trimalchio's Feast And Other Mini-Mysteries

Plus quiz books, omnibus editions, a travel book and a treasury:

The First Roman Mysteries Quiz Book
The Second Roman Mysteries Quiz Book
The Roman Mysteries Omnibus (Books 1-3) (B) (Feb)
The Roman Mysteries Omnibus (Books 4-6) (B)
From Ostia To Alexandria With Flavia Gemina
The Roman Mysteries Treasury

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